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Sexuality and Gender Alliance hosted three candidates for meet and greet

At Thursday's Sexuality and Gender Alliance meet and greet, student body presidential candidate Emilio Vicente received the group’s endorsement.

The Sexuality and Gender Alliance, SAGA, hosted three of the four student body president candidates — Vicente, Winston Howes and Andrew Powell — for a question and answer session. After the candidates left, SAGA voted to endorse Vicente.

Also on Thursday, UNC's Black Student Movement endorsed Nikita Shamdasani.

Brian Beaman, SAGA co-president, asked the candidates three questions, each gauging how they plan to respond to minority and gender issues on campus.

Vicente said his personal identification with the LGBTQ community would serve as a positive asset in addressing these issues.

“One of the things I’d like to work with is to raise awareness for gender-neutral bathrooms,” he said. “We have some across campus. I want to see if we can have one bathroom in every single building that is gender non-specific.”

Powell agreed with Vicente that gender issues, including gender-neutral housing issues, are pressing and have not been fully resolved yet.

“Every single student needs a safe place to live,” Powell said. “We could partner with the town to make sure every student has a safe place to live. It’s creative solutions like that that we should be moving forward on.”

Howes, on the other hand, said he does not support gender neutral housing, though he hopes the Christian and LGBTQ communities can have open discussions.

“There’s an event going on tonight called PornNation that has really affected how men and women view one another,” Howes said. “I’d like to promote things like that. I think it’d be better for people to engage on this at a more personal level.”

Howes said he has ideas for uniting people across groups. Dinner for 8 is a program in which students sign up and meet people seven other students for dinner, as an opportunity to reach outside their social bubbles.

When further questioned about his stance on gender non-specific housing, Howes said his mind was still open on the issue.

“The reason I said no is because of a safety concern,” Howes said. “I think the housing so much isn’t an issue so much as a people issue. That’s obvious.”

SAGA did not consider the fourth candidate, Nikita Shamdasani, when voting on whom to endorse. She was unable to attend the forum.

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